Coach Company calls for Government to Back Britain’s Coaches
Written by LBRadio on 11th May 2020
Masons of Tring and Marshall’s of Leighton Buzzard are just two local coach companies who have joined the appeal for government help in order to survive. Masons have got in touch to tell us their situation.
Masons is a family run business and here is what they tell us:-
Our business, like many others has been left in a devastating state due to Covid-19. We had a growing and successful business prior to this and we were on the up again and this year for the 3rd year in a row had been nominated small operator of the year in the national industry awards. Last year our driver one coach driver of the year and this year again one of our drivers has been selected as a finalist for coach driver of the year. We had a hugely growing and successful day trips, excursions and holiday programme that was and still is heavily supported by the local community.
They have written to their local MP regarding the frustrating situation of not being considered part of the leisure industry they say:-
Despite the fact that this is a huge proportion of our business. Not only do we run our own day trips & holidays but we have 10 vehicles which conduct private hire work, where by people and school book us for their leisure requirements. This ranges from Day trips to the seaside, national trust sites, theme parks, weddings, concerts, airport transfers, you name it, if a group of people need transporting we’ll do it!
In addition they have been actively encouraged by the Local Authority (LA) to develop school routes into commercial routes, moving away from county council school contracts, as a result they are not entitled to receive any financial support from the LA Masons say this leaves them in an incredibly disadvantaged position and currently, they owe over £180,000 in refunds to school parents and nearly 500 children are at risk of not having school transport moving forward.
Mason’s also say that as part of their requirements
…due to being commercial school routes, when the law changed (PSVAR) at the beginning of the year, to ensure all public transport could take people with disabilities (despite the fact that all children are pre-booked and we have no children travelling with disabilities) we had to invest in updating our fleet and bought 5 new school busses leaving us fairly financially tight for this year, this has now been a catastrophic move for us as we have very limited retainer funds as a result. We have applied for the small business grant; we have two properties but for reasons I don’t understand we can only gain the grant for one. And we are not eligible for the leisure grant.
We are in the process of applying for the business interruption loan, but we are petrified of how we will ever pay this back and the long-term consequences of this. The figure we are going to need is between £300,000 & £550,000, this amount is very much dependant on the process of the opening of lock down. The bank has already given us their concerns over the amount we will need to get back on our feet.
Masons need a minimum of 25 passengers on each trip to cover costs and with social distancing and many of their customers over 70 and unwilling to travel it will have a huge impact.
We have paused our current finances on our vehicles, but we are scared as to how we may begin to pay the £25,000 a month from July onwards with zero income. This does not include how we will pay our rent and utilities bills. All of our vehicles have been SORN and the insurance reduced to save money, heavens knows how we will find the funds to get these back on the road when we can get going.
No wheels have moved for us since 20th March with no prospect of that changing for some time. All 20 of our staff jobs are at risk when the furlough scheme finishes. If we do not get our business to where it was by the beginning of next year, we will not make it.
Masons are a family run firm including Candice & James Mason (Husband & Wife), Matt Mason (James’s brother) and Andy Mason (Founder & Father to James & Matt) and have been operating for 35 years.